Elgar aims to win as stand-in for Faf
Wanderers pitch looks good as the Proteas prepare for a rare Test series whitewash
The less pressured environment of a dead rubber Test in familiar surroundings will allow temporary captain Dean Elgar to take in the flavours of Test captaincy.
The last time he did the job, in the first Test of the 2017 series against England at Lord’s, Elgar admitted the occasion got to him and things became “chaotic”.
With the series sealed a head of Friday’s third Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers, Elgar said he intends enjoying the responsibility while sticking to the task: beating Pakistan for a rare Test series whitewash.
“That occasion was quite hectic. I was running around all over the show at Lord’s, doing the presser that had a lot more reporters. That was quite an intimidating factor but I’m a lot older now and I’d love to think that I’ve learnt a lot more.
“Dealing with the press and journalists in SA is a breeze compared to the UK. It’s less hostile … [I] just need to take it in and enjoy this experience because I don’t know when I’ll ever be doing this again,” Elgar said.
“We’ve got the series in the bag but there’s still a massive goal for us going into this Test. We still want to drive home the final nail, which I think we deserve to rightly do because we’ve played some really good cricket throughout the series.”
Elgar temporarily steps into Faf du Plessis’s boots as the regular captain sits out because of a one-match suspension incurred in the second Test at Newlands because of a tardy over rate.
Du Plessis’s absence necessitates a change in the line-up with Zubayr Hamza set to make his Test debut in the middle order. Elgar said there is a possibility that whoever replaces Du Plessis will bat in his specific place instead of shuffling around the batting order.
Aiden Markram, who sustained a thigh injury that prevented him from batting in the second innings of the second Test, has meanwhile been declared fit to play.
“I don’t think we’re going to shift around our batting line-up too much.
“Our players have earned their specific and respective positions. Whoever comes in for Faf [at No 5], will be a direct swap,” Elgar said. “We’ve also got a good headache where we can go for the four-seamer option and rip out those wounds that are already open in the Pakistan team or we can go for our reliable spinner in Keshav Maharaj.
“He’s been good for us and if we revert to the three-seamer option, then he fits in.
“To win, we have to put out our best side and we feel in the Wanderers conditions that generally aid fast bowling, to change that formula is going to be a big call,” he added.
The playing surface at the Wanderers has come under scrutiny recently but Elgar has already given it the thumbs-up. While the Illovo-located cricket cathedral has been famed for its pace and bounce, the pitch prepared for the 2018 Test against India had the ground thrown into the dog box with the International Cricket Council (ICC). It incurred a three-demerit penalty from the ICC for a poor pitch. Two more demerits in the next four years will see the ground earning a 12-month suspension from hosting international cricket.
Elgar carried his bat in the second innings of that Test — an unbeaten 240-ball 86 — but SA still lost the game by 63 runs.
“Of late here we’ve had a few indifferent and dodgy wickets. However, this one does look like a good wicket. Hopefully we can have a good wicket with some good pace, bounce and carry to assist our seamers. It might be a bit slow on day one,” Elgar said. “I looked at it quite a lot and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t. I don’t even look at the wicket when I’m [not] leading because I’m not the captain but it looks like it’s going to be a good cricket wicket.